Ophthalmology is a branch of medicine specializing in the anatomy, function and diseases of the eye. An eye M.D. is an ophthalmologist, a medical or osteopathic doctor who specializes in eye and vision care. They are specially trained to provide the full spectrum of eye care, from prescribing glasses and contact lenses to complex and delicate eye surgery. Board Certified Ophthalmologists perform a variety of surgical procedures, including these below, at Pikes Peak Regional Hospital.
Cataracts, the clouding of the natural eye lens, affects about 22 million Americans over age 40. In fact, it’s estimated by the time they reach age 80, more than half of Americans will have a cataract or will have had cataract surgery. In other words, if you live long enough, you’re likely to be affected by cataracts. The only treatment for cataracts is surgery to remove the clouded natural lens and implant a synthetic “intraocular” lens. This outpatient surgery takes about 10 minutes, and patients can go home as soon as it’s over. Cataract surgery is a safe, straightforward procedure performed thousands of times every day around the world. PPRH offers patients a new surgical procedure to glaucoma patients who are considering cataract surgery.
The cornea is a remarkable transparent structure located at the front of the eye that helps to focus light and protect the internal structures of the eye. It is commonly referred to as the window into the eye. The shape of the cornea is important to the focusing of light on the retina in the back of the eye. This is how images are delivered so you can see. A properly shaped and healthy cornea allows this light to focus clearly, providing crisp vision. It is important that the cornea remain clear so the light can pass through to the retina without being interrupted. If the cornea gets hazy or cloudy, or if the shape of the cornea becomes irregular, vision can be impaired. Some causes of this include age, trauma, or disease. When vision is impaired it is important to seek medical treatment.
Glaucoma is a progressive eye disease that damages the optic nerve. Because the optic nerve transmits information from your eye to your brain, glaucoma can result in a gradual, irreversible loss of vision and may eventually lead to blindness. Although there are different types of glaucoma, high intraocular pressure (IOP) — also referred to as high eye pressure — is often present and is one of several risk factors for glaucoma. However, many patients with glaucoma do not have high IOP – which is why a comprehensive eye exam, including an examination of the optic nerve, is important for early diagnosis. PPRH offers patients a new surgical procedure to glaucoma patients who are considering cataract surgery.
New Surgical Procedure For Glaucoma Patients
Pikes Peak Regional Hospital, in conjunction with Colorado Eye Institute, is now offering Micro-Invasive Glaucoma Surgery, or MIGS to glaucoma patients who are considering cataract surgery. PPRH is one of only a handful of facilities in Colorado performing this surgery.
Using a new microstent, roughly the size an eyelash, the surgeon places the microstent into the eye drainage system during cataract surgery. It acts as a kind of scaffolding that helps to open and enlarge the drainage system. In so doing, the stent helps to lower intraocular pressure. This innovative device is similar to the stents used for heart conditions such as coronary artery disease.
Because insertion of the device is done at the same time as cataract surgery, patients who need or want cataract surgery can have a combined cataract and glaucoma procedure. The cataract portion is performed to improve vision, and the microstent placement is performed to help control glaucoma. Insertion of the microstent generally adds only a few minutes to the surgery and is done when the cataract portion is completed. The microstent adds little overall risk to the procedure. Insertion of the microstent, however, can help greatly with the task of controlling eye pressure and thus controlling a patient’s glaucoma.
According to Dr. James Lee with Colorado Eye Institute, most patients with both cataracts and glaucoma are considered to be good candidates for this combined procedure. Dr. Lee is a board-certified, Ophthalmologist who specializes in the management of cataracts and patients who also suffer from glaucoma. He has been in practice for 14 years and has been performing surgery at PPRH for 4 years.
“The microstent provides patients with an opportunity to reduce the number of medications they use to manage their disease,” said Dr. Lee. “It also provides the opportunity to improve eye pressure without being subjected to an ever-increasing number of topical medications (eyedrops), each of which can have side effects for both their eyes and other organs such as the heart and lungs.”
Dr. Lee has been providing all glaucoma patients who are considering cataract surgery with more information on this exciting procedure. Eligible candidates have the choice of undergoing cataract surgery alone, or cataract surgery along with insertion of the microstent. The addition of the stent does not alter the success of cataract surgery, but it can dramatically help with management of glaucoma.
Ocufacial surgery is the highly specialized field of medicine which includes the treatment of any condition that affects the eyelid or soft tissue that supports and surrounds the eye. This may include the eyelids, tear ducts, orbital tissue behind the eyes, and the facial area around the eyes, cheeks, or forehead.
Ocufacial disorders can occur in all ages, and a few of the most common conditions include:
- Drooping of the Upper or the Lower Eyelids
- Lesions or Skin Cancers On The Eyelids
- Facial Trauma Around the Eyes
- Eyelids That Turn In or Turn Out
- Orbital Trauma or Tumors Behind the Eye
- Facial Changes Due To Thyroid Problems (Grave’s Disease)
- Tear Duct Problems (Causing Blockage, Constant Tearing, or Infection)
Ocufacial surgical procedures are designed to improve the appearance and function of the eyelids and surrounding facial area while allowing patients to look and feel natural again.
For more information about Ophthalmological Surgery at Pikes Peak Regional Hospital call 719-687-5719.